Slip and fall

Slip and fall law defined:

Slip and fall law can simply be referred to as the rules of liability involving cases where a certain individual suffers an injury as a result of falling and slipping on someone’s else property because of the dangerous conditions there. Slip and fall cases are usually governed by the principle of negligence. State laws control all such cases until and unless the accident happens at a government building. In some cases local building code can also come into action.

The mention of the word “slip” refers to situations where victim faces an unfavorable and unsafe underfoot condition, and due to this condition overextension of muscles, stumble, twist or other damaging event takes place. Direct causes of slip and fall may include (but are not limited to) spilled liquids, objects lying on the floor or stairs, cracked sidewalks, ice and snow, uneven steps, broken tiles, potholes, etc. Whereas indirect causes may include missing handrails, inappropriate lighting, etc.

To start with, a slip and fall lawsuit must identify the parties involved. In most cases fault can easily be traced to a particular person (like an employee or a tenant) responsible for the hazard but there are also other parties involved who have some sort of control of the site where the accident took place. These additional parties can be a landlord, a property manager, etc.

When there is uncertainty involved regarding the responsible party, or the names of the defendants can’t be immediately identified, the lawsuit in this case can be name the defendant as “John Doe”. This name is substituted with the correct name in the legal record once the name of the party involved has been identified. The reason for this fictitious name is that it lets the plaintiff to file a complaint on time.

The case can be a little different when the slip and fall accident happens on a public property. Historically, victim in such cases were not allowed to sue for negligence (usually the government). This rule has now been changed, and the government these days allows the victim of slip and fall (on a public property) to sue the government but under limited circumstances. There are usually strict requirements for a victim to qualify to sue the government in such cases.

Proving The Defendant is Liable

If it’s not a case where the defendant has intentionally tried to harm the plaintiff (which doesn’t happen often), the plaintiff is required to prove the negligence on defendant’s part. Negligence in this case would mean that the defendant has failed to act in a way, which could be considered reasonable to avoid the slip and fall accident. For instance, the store clerk is reasonably expected to put a “wet floor” sign after he has mopped the floor. If he doesn’t and as a result one of the customer slips and falls then store can be held responsible.

To hold someone responsible for negligence, it is important to find out whether that person had the knowledge. In slip and fall cases, the plaintiff is generally required to make a discovery, which means finding out what the defendant knew. In the course of discovery, defendant maybe asked to show records like video recording, repair logs, etc.

Sworn testimony can also be used by the plaintiff when trying to prove what happened at the accident site. In this case plaintiff will not have to wait for the actual trial in order to hear what the witnesses have to say about the accident. Recorded interviews, known as depositions are generally used for this purpose. The defendant in this case will be required to appear in the plaintiff’s attorney office and record the statement about the accident.

Such a testimony can be very important in any negligence case as both the parties involved in the case develop an understanding of the circumstances even before the actual trial. Depending upon how severe the injury is, plaintiff and defendant can determine how serious the case is going to be, and what the settlements are going to be.

What might initially look like a favorable condition or a case for a defendant might quickly go against him or her. This happens because most of the time, defendants raise comparative fault issue. This means that the plaintiff was also careless in exercising care and must share half or full burden of the blame. This is exactly the reason why slip and fall victims are advised to hire an attorney as soon as possible and should not talk about the incident before that.